The prospects are coming, the prospects are coming.
You may have already heard that Royals shortstop/third baseman Bobby Witt Jr. is MLB Pipeline’s new No. 1 overall prospect. Chances are good that if you’re reading this you also know he’s competing for a Major League job out of Spring Training and strengthening his candidacy by the day. Following the release of Pipeline’s full Royals Top 30 prospect list, here’s another thing to know -- he won’t be alone in that charge to Kansas City in 2022.
Fellow Top 100 prospects MJ Melendez and Nick Pratto aren’t far off from joining the Major League club either after their breakout 2021s, and it might just be a matter of finding them roster spots. Pratto, who slugged .602 at Double-A and Triple-A and sports a special glove at first base, has maybe the clearer path of the two. Melendez -- the Minor League home run champ in 2021 with 41 blasts in the upper levels -- sits behind reigning Major League homer co-leader Salvador Perez on the Royals catching depth chart.
Even if takes some roster maneuvering to figure it out, all three should bring their own versions of thump to Kauffman Stadium at some points in 2022.
You could extend that out to No. 5 prospect Vinnie Pasquantino, another breakout 2021 talent who managed a .300/.394/.563 line, 24 homers and an even 64/64 K/BB ratio in 116 games at High-A and Double-A last season. The 2019 11th-rounder is first-base-only defensively, so he might be a DH fit if his hit and power tools hold up and he bumps up against Pratto at the top level.
On the pitching side, No. 72 overall prospect Asa Lacy is looking to bounce back from a rocky first full season that saw him battle shoulder and control issues. The 6-foot-4 left-hander still possesses premium stuff and can get whiffs by the handfuls when healthy. No. 8 Frank Mozzicato and No. 11 Ben Kudrna deserve close following as 2021 Draft picks who signed for similar amounts out of the first and second rounds, respectively.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2021 preseason list to the 2022 preseason list.
Jump: Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B (2021: NR | 2022: 5) -- The 24-year-old slugger was far from a big name coming out of Old Dominion in 2019, but he showed promising late signs of power there and at Rookie-level Burlington in that Draft year. It’s possible he could have put up big numbers in his true first full season of 2020, had it not been canceled due to the pandemic. Instead, that breakout was delayed until 2021, but it came all the same. Pasquantino exhibits an enticing blend of contact rate and pop that makes him a close-to-ideal first-base prospect. There will be a lot more eyes on him at Triple-A this summer.
Fall: Seuly Matias, OF (2021: 17 | 2022: NR) -- Matias’ raw power is maybe the best in the entire system. His strikeout rates, well they’re closer to the bottom of the list. The 23-year-old outfielder slugged 17 homers in only 64 games between High-A and Double-A in 2021 but struck out 36.4 percent of the time as well. The pitchers are only going to get tougher as Matias climbs the ladder, and after being passed over multiple times on the 40-man when Rule 5-eligible, it seems like a long shot that he’ll show the hit tool needed to make the most of that prodigious pop in games, even as he still puts on monster shows in batting practice.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 60 -- Bobby Witt Jr.
Power: 70 -- Bobby Witt Jr.
Run: 65 -- Peyton Wilson
Arm: 65 -- Peyton Wilson
Defense: 70 -- Nick Pratto
Fastball: 70 -- Dylan Coleman
Curveball: 60 -- Frank Mozzicato (Alec Marsh, Austin Cox, Noah Murdock)
Slider: 60 -- Asa Lacy (Ben Kudrna)
Changeup: 65 -- Ben Hernandez
Control: 60 -- Jonathan Bowlan
How they were built
Draft: 24 | International: 5 | Trade: 1
Breakdown by ETA
2022: 11 | 2023: 10 | 2024: 3 | 2025: 6
Breakdown by position
C: 3 | 1B: 2 | 2B: 2 | 3B: 0 | SS: 4 | OF: 4 | RHP: 9 | LHP: 6